Photos: Lee Zi Jin, Camelia Ting
Video: Aaron Ho
Although it has been 21 years since local actress Chen Xiu Huan (also known as Sherry Tan) left the entertainment industry in 1997, the actress, it seems, continued to remain well-loved in the hearts of audiences, who enjoyed her shows of yesteryears.
The 52-year-old actress told us, during our interview with her at the media conference of upcoming Channel 8 drama Fifty and Fabulous, that random strangers she met on the streets would tell her they missed seeing her on television, and would ask if she planned to return to showbiz.
“I took the chance to promote this show, and asked them to catch it when it airs on June 6,” the actress shared, “They were so surprised but pleased to hear that I’m starring in a new show!”
Xiu Huan was a contracted Mediacorp artiste for 13 years before deciding to quit acting and marry her husband, known to the media as Mr Tsai, in 1997. Yesterday, she signed a one-year contract with Mediacorp, and opened up about her reasons for doing so.
“When I left the entertainment industry, I didn’t have any plans of returning,” she revealed, “I really loved acting, but had to give up my career because it was the responsible thing to do at that time.”
“However, my love for acting did not go away,” shared the actress. “After we had kids, I remember telling my husband that I will return to acting once our youngest child enrols into secondary school.”
Jason Oh with Chen Xiu Huan
The actress sure kept to her word, as her youngest daughter, Shavinne, will turn 14 this year, and her older daughters, Shalynn and Shanisse, will be 18 and 20 respectively.
“I feel very blessed, because my daughters are very well-behaved,” she said, “I feel like I’ve managed the house quite well as a full-time housewife, and thought that it will be a good time for me to return to the acting career [which] I loved.”
While the thought of acting had always lingered on the back of her mind, Xiu Huan revealed that her eventual return to TV happened by chance. It was a “natural process” which started after she accidentally agreed to take part in upcoming Malaysia co-production Gifted, which stars local actors like Elvin Ng and Fiona Xie. Prior to that, she also picked up projects on-and-off and filmed a local movie, Lucky Boy, in 2015.
Working on Gifted made her realise that she has yet to lose touch with her craft, as she managed to move the director to tears with her portrayal of a depressed woman who meets her illegitimate son for the first time.
Xiu Huan tells us that her return, however, was kept a secret from her closest celebrity girlfriends, local actresses Zoe Tay and Hong Hui Fang.
“They will scold me for sure when they find out about it through the media,” she chuckled, “I’m so sorry!”
WATCH: Chen Xiu Huan hopes to return to TV with a brand new image.
(Continued on next page: Chen Xiu Huan loses weight before her comeback)
Cast members of 'Fifty and Fabulous'
Xiu Huan sheds kilos before making her comeback
While acting was something she was always passionate for, the actress admits that she had reservations about returning to showbiz, as she felt neither mentally nor physically prepared.
“I was given several offers to act, but I turned all of them down because I didn’t feel mentally ready,” she shared.
She also worried that viewers who have not seen her for over two decades would perceive her as an “auntie”.
“People might wonder why an ‘auntie’ like me is making her television comeback,” she joked. “I thought that I would have to present a better side of me to the viewers, if I decide to return for good.”
Hence began her “last-minute homework” - keeping fit with yoga, brisk walking and running, which eventually allowed her to successfully lose five kilograms. “I also started watching more local dramas to keep myself current,” Xiu Huan said.
Chen Xiu Huan and her family (Photo: Chen Xiu Huan/Instagram)
Xiu Huan’s family gives their fullest support
According to Xiu Huan, both her husband and daughters are equally supportive of her decision.
“My husband thinks it’s time for the kids to be more independent, because they are older now,” she shared. “He also promised to look after them on my behalf and that encouraged me a lot.”
“I told my daughters too, and they are really supportive in their own way,” she added. “Earlier today, they dropped me text messages to wish me the best of luck, because they knew I will be attending this press conference.”
(Continued on next page: Chen Xiu Huan's antics left Chew Chor Meng flustered)
Chen Xiu Huan with her onscreen husband, local actor Chew Chor Meng
Chew Chor Meng cannot put up with Xiu Huan’s lovey-dovey antics
Xiu Huan’s co-star and husband on Fifty and Fabulous, veteran actor Chew Chor Meng, was one of the reasons why the actress chose to make her comeback in this particular series.
“My character is married to Chor Meng’s character on the show,” the actress said. “We used to have really great chemistry on set, but that was 23 years ago (the pair last collaborated on Chinese period drama The Witty Advisor).
"A part of me wondered if we’ll still have the same chemistry if we work together now.”
Her answer, it seems, is still a resounding yes. In fact, she got so comfortable with Chor Meng that she played the role of his over affectionate onscreen wife a little too well, and hugged and kissed the actor “to her heart’s content” while on set.
“Chor Meng said he never behaved that way with his wife, so he couldn’t get used to my displays of affection,” the actress chuckled, “He even broke into a cold sweat!”
“Despite so, we work really well together because he lets me do whatever I want to,” she expressed, “acting with him was a breeze.”
Fifty And Fabulous debuts on June 6, 2018, 9pm on Channel 8.
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